A shocker: Stanford women fall in Final Four


Palo Alto Online Sports

There's not much else the Stanford women's basketball senior class needed to accomplish to take its rightful place in Cardinal lore.

Winning a national championship was the final frontier, and now that's no longer an option.

Texas A&M upset its second straight top-seeded team in the NCAA tournament and is heading to its first national championship game.

The Aggies (32-5) rallied from a 10-point deficit in the final six minutes Saturday, winning it when Tyra White drove the length of the court to give Texas A&M the go-ahead layup and a 63-62 victory over second-ranked Stanford.

The Aggies will face Notre Dame in Tuesday night's title game. The Irish beat Connecticut, 72-63, in the late semifinal.

White finished with 18 points, and All-American Danielle Adams scored 16 for the Aggies.

Stanford (33-3) got 31 points from Nnemkadi Ogwumike and 11 from Jeanette Pohlen but blew the late lead and went home empty-handed from the Final Four for the fourth consecutive year.

"I thought we played very well to get the lead," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "We had to do some things that we don't have to do all season long against anyone else."

The Cardinal, which had its 27-game winning streak snapped, was the first team in this year's NCAA tournament to score more than 50 points against Texas A&M. That's little consolation though.

Stanford will be back. Players like Ogwumike, her sister Chiney Ogwumike, Lindy La Rocque, Michaela Ruef and Sarah Boothe will most certainly allow the Cardinal to remain a national title contender.

For the moment, the future remains cloudy. Kayla Pedersen and Jeanette Pohlen, with Hannah Donaghe and Ashley Cimino, played with all the heart, guts, blood and character for which any coach would appreciate.

"It's hard," said Pedersen, who had 10 rebounds to finish her career with 1,266 -- surpassing Jayne Appel's all-time school and Pac-10 career record. "I mean, it's an awful feeling. The hardest part isn't losing the game, it's leaving these players."

They join others like Appel, Candice Wiggins and Nicole Powell as among the school's best and who never tasted victory in the final game of the season.

A&M trailed, 54-44, with 6:01 left to go. Danielle Adams started an 8-0 run with two free throws and Sydney Colson gave Texas A&M a 59-58 lead by making two free throws with 53 seconds left.

Eighteen seconds later, Ogwumike made two foul shots to give Stanford a 60-59 lead.

A&M came back with Tyra's White's layup with 19 seconds to go, only to have Ogwumike answer with a tough layup with 9 seconds left that gave Stanford a 62-61 lead.

The Aggies, without a timeout, immediately got the ball to Colson, who raced up the floor and dished to the cutting White for the winner.

"It's time to make history," Colson said. "Forget that you're tired and just push through it and I think it's exactly what we did."

-- AP contributed to this report

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Posted by A Fan
a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2011 at 10:25 am

It wasn't just hard for the team. I don't think I've felt so sick for a LOOOOONG time. I'm from Boston, and it's beginning to feel like the Curse of the Bambino - west coast style. Something always happens - great team - best preparation - and something doesn't quite fit. What a tough loss all-around!

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Posted by Amazed
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 4, 2011 at 11:34 am

Tough game to watch. The refs ignored A&M players battering Stanford players, but called fouls on Stanford when there was a mere brush. I had to be impressed by A&M's diving ability -- they could be a soccer team in the World Cup.

Sad to see the best team lose, and even sadder since the refs handed A&M at least 8 points.

Like this comment
Posted by Joel
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 4, 2011 at 11:43 am

Joel is a registered user.

Great team and fabulous season is not distracted by one loss. You are champions forever.
Thank you.

Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 4, 2011 at 12:00 pm

I can't stand it when someone blames the refs. The game was 40 minutes long and mistakes were made by all participants - players, coaches and refs. You didn't see Coach V complaining to the refs - which should be your cue. The refs didn't give away a 10 point lead either.

A&M put the pressure on and unfortunately Stanford's weakness (guard play) was leveraged to the Aggie's advantage.

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Posted by Bye, bye Tara
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 4, 2011 at 12:18 pm

4 final four appearances in 4 years. ZERO championships. Time for tara to take her act somewhere else--she cannot get it done--4 years in a row of choking in big games is enough. Bye, bye Tara.

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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 4, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Fine - send her to UCLA. And say goodbye to FF's forever.

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Posted by Bye, bye Tara
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 4, 2011 at 12:58 pm

If the goal is to win it all and you are stuck in a rut with a coach that can not win the big one, then a change is needed. Tara's been coasting on her laurels for years.
Did you see the final play she drew 3.4 seconds left and she calls for a full court heave of the ball that ended nowhere near a Stanford player--get her out of here already.

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Posted by Long time fan
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 4, 2011 at 2:07 pm

The game was lost a lot sooner. When Texas A&M scored its next-to-last basket, Neka had the player shut off on the baseline but back off and allowed a layin. Then, after Stanford scored the go-ahead basket and the Aggies hustled the ball upcourt, Lindy La Rocque failed to step in front of the dribbler to slow her down and take valuable seconds off the clock. Chiney pretty much disappeared in the game, Kokenis wasn't a factor and Joslyn Tinkle didn't even play, which was strange. Stanford dribbled too much and lost the game there, wilting under A&M's defensive pressure. That's a problem that shows up in the biggest games, Stanford's failure to deal with defensive pressure. It's too bad, because Notre Dame perhaps cleared a path to the title by beating UConn. Hopefully, incoming freshman recruit Amber Orrange will be that quick guard that Stanford has been missing for years. Skylar Diggins of Notre Dame was going to be that guard, but she turned Stanford down. Look for Stanford to be back knocking on the door again next year -- the Ogwumike sisters are just too good not for that to happen.

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Posted by well, well
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 4, 2011 at 4:22 pm

That was tough to watch - especially when the Cardinal went up by ten but did not for whatever reason close it out.
Gotta give the refs credit - the no-call on the Nneka screen among others. There were a lot of games that beat this one on the poorly-officiated-meter - UCLA in the Pac10 tourney and Tennessee, to name two.
And speaking of Tennessee, it's good we are not Tennessee (and Tara doesn't ream her players on nationwide TV ESPN like Pat Summit). Winning isn't the only thing. And if it were, there's the undefeated in Maples for four years and the two straight undefeated seasons in conference.
Even so, you gotta wonder how many special players who have the talent to win a title will graduate without? Don't think Tara ought to go - do think she ought to get her head straight and win it all.

Like this comment
Posted by QueenMotherFrog
a resident of Los Altos
on Apr 4, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Thanks Cardinal Women's Basketball program for a good season. I look forward to next year. Keeping fingers crossed we recruit a couple solid strong guards!
I am sure the seniors will 'bounce' into great careers and lives after Stanford.

Like this comment
Posted by Andrew
a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2011 at 10:51 pm

I am an Aggie and a fair judge of Basketball. Y'all have nothing to hang your heads on. Wow y'all have a great program, great season etc. Please don't blame it on the refs. This game was way too sloppy and the refs let both get away with tons of obvious fouls. That last shot with 10 seconds from your girl, she was fouled should of been an and one. That game winning shot by our girl, she was fouled. That went on the whole game. This game just lasted one minute too long for y'all to win, or 20 seconds to short for y'all to win. About fouls, note the Aggies didn't get to the free throw line one time in the first half. Y'all got 1/3 of your points in first half on line. Bottom line, and how many times have you heard the game is won or lost at free throw line? Aggies were 10-10 on line and Cardinal was 13-19. We shot way above average and y'all shot below average. Game was a one point game. Another big point some have already mentioned. Guard play was very poor, extremely poor in final five minutes. Y'alls big girls were unstopable under the rim. The guard play was worrible. Y'all couldn't get a play ran towards the end. Either way, congrats on the season, wow, seriously y'all have a lot to be proud of. I hope we don't have to meet up again next year :) Good luck and god bless.

Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2011 at 8:12 pm

The turning point was when Murphy fouled out. Stanford really needed a ball handler.

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Posted by Andrew
a resident of another community
on Apr 6, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Good point, the turning point was when Murphy fouled out. I am an Aggie and watched that foul several times, Murphy should not of been called on that one, both were trying to get to the ball. Let them play! It sucks cause there were many more fouls on both that didn't get called. The refs let the game to get physical. Murphy going out helped my Aggies win this game, then the title. Good luck next year.

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